User Experience and User Interface design are defining factors in the field of digital design when discussing the look and feel of a platform. However, even experts sometimes use UI and UX interchangeably which can lead to using them incorrectly. It is important for newcomers into the field and potential clients to understand the important distinction. The differences are everything but obvious with layers of nuance around each term. Understanding the detailed concept of the two allows for better control of the impact of the design.
If you have a business, you know that in the 21st century, it is near impossible to establish yourself without a digital presence. In fact, if your business isn’t online, it might as well not exist. Knowing what the difference is between these two allows you to understand the impact of that digital space on possible customers. It is also important for you to know what questions to ask to help you find the right design team to make your business’s online presence reach the right audience.
What Is User Interface Design (UI)?
If we rely on the name to identify what User Interface (UI) is, it might sound like we’re talking just about face value. In reality, there is so much more to what goes into creating an optimal User Interface. UI isn’t just what we see, but how we interact with said design. This includes aspects like interactive controls and useability, but also things like sound engineering, motion design, and copywriting. It takes elements that are not always tangible and translates them into something that is.
Creating a Great UI Design
What makes a good UI design? The Nielsen Norman Group defines it through the following characteristics: Learnability, efficiency, memorability, errors, and satisfaction.
- Learnability refers to the ease in which users can complete tasks the first time they encounter said design. Medium is a great example of a design that invites you in a simple way to immediately begin writing or reading. If you want to begin writing, the page allows you to do so creating a blank clutter-free canvas to inspire you.
- Efficiency refers to the ease in which users can perform tasks once they’ve learned how to use the design. A great example of this would be Airbnb’s search engine. Whether you’re a brand-new traveler or have been at it for a while, the design is quick to learn and efficient in its purpose.
- Memorability refers to if users will remember how to use the design after a while of not using it. Dropbox does this well by not reinventing the wheel. They use the same drag and drop features that people are familiar with, so no matter how long you go between visits, the design stays familiar.
- Errors refers to the amount of errors found. This might refer both to spelling mistakes but also design errors. Does the user come across any design errors and if so, how does it affect them in completing tasks? Consider low-budget or beta-stage designs are usually brimming with potential errors.
- Satisfaction refers to how pleasant the design is to use. This might mean anything from how efficiently a user was able to complete the desired task to how a color palette affects a user. With 85% of shoppers being convinced to make a purchase due to color, the shades and hues you use for your design matter greatly.
What Is User Experience Design (UX)?
So while UI refers to how they user will interact with the design, the User Experience (UX) indicates how the user will feel and think while interacting with the design. The concept was first established, to no one’s surprise, at Apple. In the early 1990’s, a man named Don Norman coined the term. He explained, “User Experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products". The user experience is of course very relative, and context must be considered in order to create a platform a User can relate with.
Creating a Great UX Design
Peter Morville from Semantic Studios offers six characteristics that go into creating a great UX design. They are how usable, useful, desirable, findable, accessible, and credible a design is.
- Usable: The product needs to be easy to use.
- Useful: The product should fill a need.
- Desirable: The product must be attractive to look at.
- Findable: The product needs to be easy to find.
- Accessible: The product must be accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.
- Credible: The product and its company must be trustworthy.
However, due to the previously mentioned relativity of all this, there are other characteristics that can be considered depending on who you ask.
What Are The Similarities Between UX and UI Design?
One can understand why these two concepts get confused, as they are both so key in determining the impact on users using the platform and many factors end up overlapping. The difference between efficiency and usability might be harder to explain than to understand. However, when building a car, the difference is evident. Building a digital platform is no different when it comes to understanding these nuances. The right designer or designing team that understands these complexities must work digital magic that involves an understanding of psychology, marketing, trends and might have a sensitivity for geometry or spatial sciences.
Entrepreneurs looking to mark their online presence should have a clear idea of who their audience is and what they wish the audience’s experience to be when interacting with their design.
Rahul Varshney, co-creator of Foster.fm might’ve said it best when he said, “User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are some of the most confused and misused terms in our field. A UI without UX is like a painter slapping paint onto a canvas without thought, while UX without UI is like the frame of a sculpture with no paper mâché on it. A great product experience starts with UX followed by UI. Both are essential for the product’s success.”
So now that you know the difference, make sure that your product doesn’t fall flat and have a conversation around the desired experience and impact of the design so that the final product is a work of art.